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Whitmer in state semifinals for second straight season  Whitmer players celebrate a Division I regional championship in Sandusky after defeating Wadsworth. The No. 2-ranked Panthers (13-1) fell in the state semifinals to Cleveland St. Ignatius.
Whitmer players celebrate a Division I regional championship in Sandusky after defeating Wadsworth. The No. 2-ranked Panthers (13-1) fell in the state semifinals to Cleveland St. Ignatius.
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Published: Thursday, 12/1/2011

SIDELINES: FOOTBALL

Whitmer in state semifinals for second straight season

Eastwood puts an end to Genoa's winning streak

BY STEVE JUNGA
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

One of the most talented football teams in Toledo history, Whitmer reached its second straight Division I state playoff semifinal before falling 17-6 to 10-time state champion Cleveland St. Ignatius.

The Panthers (13-1) of sixth-year coach Joe Palka -- who entered the playoffs ranked No. 2 and riding an 18-game regular-season winning streak dating back to 2010 -- beat Anthony Wayne 20-0, Canton McKinley 37-6, and Wadsworth 37-0 before being eliminated.

Whitmer's lineup featured four All-Ohio first-team players with running back Jody Webb, offensive tackle Storm Norton, defensive end Chris Wormley and safety Mark Meyers.

The Panthers won the first Three Rivers Athletic Conference title on the heels of back-to-back City League championships.

To win the TRAC, Whitmer topped Findlay, which closed with a 9-2 mark after losing 35-28 in overtime in a first-round D-I playoff game at Hudson. Trojans coach Mark Ritzler was named Ohio D-I co-coach of the year.

Central Catholic (8-4) the TRAC's third-place team, reached the second round of the Division II playoffs before losing to Avon.

Southview (9-2) captured its fifth straight Northern Lakes League title before falling to Canton McKinley in a D-I first-round playoff game. With Anthony Wayne in D-I and Napoleon in D-III, the NLL put three teams in the playoffs.

The first year of the Northern Buckeye Conference featured a season-long buildup toward a final-week showdown between unbeatens Genoa and Eastwood, with each team ranked among the top 10 in the Division IV state poll.

Eastwood rallied from a 10-point deficit in the game's final four minutes to take a 25-23 victory at Genoa, ending the Comets' 48-game regular-season winning streak and their string of four consecutive league championships (all in the former Suburban Lakes League).

After both teams won their playoff openers, a rematch was not in the cards as Eastwood (11-1) lost in a regional semifinal to second-ranked Columbus Bishop Hartley, and Genoa fell to top-ranked Kenton.

One rivalry that did get a second act was the one involving Northwest Ohio Athletic League champion Liberty Center (11-1) and runner-up Patrick Henry (10-3). Liberty Center won the league matchup 3-0 on a late field goal, and the Patriots avenged that defeat with a 21-7 victory in a semifinal. Patrick Henry bowed out in the regional final against Hicksville.

Other league champions included Northwood (9-2) in the Toledo Area Athletic Conference, and Rogers (5-5) in the City League.

Bedford (7-4) reached the playoffs for a third straight season before falling in a second-round game against Southeastern Conference Red Division champion Ann Arbor Pioneer.

Summerfield (8-4) advanced to the third round of the Michigan Division 8 playoffs.



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